For two weeks from 24th December 2013 the Russian ship Akademik Shokalskiy was trapped in thick ice in Commonwealth Bay, East Antarctica, while operating in support of the 2013-14 Australasian Antarctic Expedition. It had taken 9 days of sailing across the rough Southern Ocean to reach the area. Before the ice closed around the ship the expedition members conducted important oceanographic, biological and geological studies and made a trip over the fast ice to visit Mawsons Huts, the base for the original AAE 100 years prior.
I was the doctor and photographer on the expedition and found myself at the center of what became a worldwide media story. I used satellite modem technology to upload images that were picked up by news agencies, magazines and online.
With the help of maritime rescue authorities the scientists and passengers aboard were eventually evacuated by a helicopter from a nearby Chinese icebreaker Xue Long to the Australian icebreaker Aurora Australis. About a week later Akademik Shokalskiy was able to move again through the efforts of the remaining crew as the weather changed and the ice began to clear away.
The expedition’s findings—and my photographs—aim to focus attention on the issues at hand in Antarctica with regard to climate issues and on the beauty of this incredible area. Much is still unknown about the frozen continent, partly because of its harsh conditions, and scientists are particularly interested in the impact of the changing climate there.
Art & Culture Featured – Written & Photographed by Andrew Peacock